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Chelsea defender Gary Cahill expressed his well wishes to former Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason, who was forced to announce his retirement earlier this week when he was unable to recover from a skull fracture sustained as the two collided in a game a year ago.

Cahill, writing in the programme notes before Chelsea’s 4-0 victory against Hull in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Friday, said Mason’s well-being was the most important thing on his mind entering the game.

“I was devastated to hear that Ryan Mason has retired from professional football this week,” Cahill wrote. “I can’t even imagine what he’s feeling and going through, having to retire at such a young age, and when I heard the news it was heartbreaking.

“Ryan is a lovely guy. I’ve met him and trained alongside him with England, and it’s a horrible situation. I’ve got a son and a beautiful fiancee around me, so these are the sort of things that mean more to you than football when things are put into perspective.”

Mason, 26, clashed heads with Cahill after 14 minutes of Hull’s 2-0 loss to Chelsea in the Premier League on Jan. 22, 2017.

He told talkSPORT in October that 14 metal plates were put into his skull to help the fracture recover.

“Challenging for the ball in the air is such a common thing and you never expect consequences like this to come from it,” Cahill wrote. “That is when football goes totally out of your thoughts and it becomes about making the best decision for your health.”

Although he acknowledged he was trying to make a return to football following the injury, Mason told BBC Radio 5 Live on Friday that doctors were unlikely to be able to declare him fit.

Throughout this last 12 to 13 months, it has been a constant battle, but I was always confident that I could get back out on the football pitch,” he said. “But it was probably a week, two weeks ago that I got some pretty conclusive and strong news.”

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